Short stature as a screening test for endocrinopathy in slipped capital femoral epiphysis.
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Slipped capital femoral epiphysis may be associated with hypothyroidism and other endocrinopathies. Routine screening for such abnormalities is unlikely to be cost-effective since the overall incidence of these disorders, in association with slipped capital femoral epiphysis, is low. The identification of a presenting characteristic which would predict the chance of an associated endocrinopathy would allow only selected children to be screened. Our aim was to determine if certain characteristics were useful as a screen for patients with an underlying endocrinopathy who presented with slipped capital femoral epiphysis. Between January 1988 and December 1996 we recorded gender, age, height, unilateral or bilateral involvement and an associated diagnosis of endocrinopathy for all patients who were treated for slipped capital femoral epiphysis. Of 166 such patients 13 (7.8%) had an endocrinopathy. Height was the only useful screening characteristic, although bilateral involvement was more likely in those with an endocrinopathy. Most (90.9%) of this latter group were below the tenth percentile for height compared with only 5.4% in those who did not have an endocrinopathy (p < 0.005). The sensitivity and negative predictive value of detecting an underlying endocrinopathy in a patient presenting with a slipped capital femoral epiphysis and short stature (tenth percentile or less) were 90.2% and 98.6%, respectively. Patients who are on or below the tenth percentile for height at the time of presentation should be screened for a possible endocrine abnormality using measurement of thyroid-stimulating hormone and free thyroxine as a preliminary screening test. These hormones are most likely to be abnormal in the presence of endocrine dysfunction.
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